Keystone Hosts Great Activities
Inside the Outdoors May 15, 2009

Before I go into detail as to the many fine plans Keystone State Park’s Environmental Education Specialist Pam McQuistian has lined up for outdoor enthusiasts beginning Friday, May 22, I first want to make mention of the fact that Saturday, May 23rd, is the first Fish For Free Day throughout the state of Pennsylvania. That definitely will bring smiles to a lot of anglers who, for some reason, don’t have the money, or the time, as far as that goes. Now, anyone any age can fish free anywhere in state waters and it won’t cost so much as a nickel. Besides, it is a great way to introduce someone to the world of fishing!

The second Fish for Free Day is set for Sunday, June 7, not that far down the road from that May date. So, by chance if you scheduled something all ready for next Saturday, plan on fishing free on the first part of the June weekend.


Beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon and lasting for two hours, until 4 p.m., Pam will be leading in interested participants in a Bird and Botany Bike Hike (B & B Bike Hike) along the Lakeside Trail “in search of nature’s spring splendor,” as she puts it.

Having had experience on my two-wheeler for the past 40 years, few know better than I do when given the opportunity to become enveloped in God’s beauty enduring the bumps of the brush and the surrounding forests. Many times I would bike to where I would fish, chain my bike to a tree, and head off to parts along the Loyalhanna Creek to enjoy my favorite past time sport immersed in nature to its fullest.

So when the Education Specialist talks about “smelling the flowers and listening to the birds of spring,” those taking part on this bike hike will definitely come to realize in quick fashion nature at its best, just as I experienced it along the waters throughout Latrobe.

Two hours after the Bike Hike concludes at 4 p.m., at 6 p.m. an Evening Canoe Tour will commence. It, too, will last for two hours. It will begin at the Park’s Boat House. “We will search for clues of days gone by,” McQuistian remarked. It puts me in the mood of stepping out of my office chair and stepping into one of these boats as I write.

Anyone who has ever been on a canoe ride or trip can tell you, taking such an excursion is a real treat especially on Keystone Lake where the waters are so calm like glass that one can sense the movement forward but not the current moving the boat along. Registration is necessary for program. This may be made by calling 724-668-2566.

The folks at Keystone State Park have created Hiking Week that runs from May 23 to May 30. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Call the office to find more details.

Beginning next Saturday, May 23, the Wild Edible Plants Hike will begin at 2 p.m. McQuistian will point out along the outdoor trails, not only the “delicious wild foods,” but how to identify what is safe to eat and how to prepare them.

I believe this to be a very important outing. I don’t know how many of you have ever gotten lost in the woods, but take from one who has, “it ain’t no fun, especially when the lights go out, and one is stuck out in the middle of nowhere not sure of what direction to go.” It’s only happened to me twice, but twice too many. Through the grace of God He led me back to safer grounds, but others may not be as fortunate. That means, the other 99% should go on this outing and learn what is good to eat. Meet at the visitor center.

At 6 p.m. that evening, there will be a Creatures of the Night Hike. That excursion will alert adventurers concerning animals that move about at dusk and dawn. “We’ll search for furred, feathered, scaled and smooth critters in this active time of the day,” she stated. It will conclude around 8 p.m. This program will also begin at the visitor center.

On Sunday, May 24, beginning at 9 a.m., a Birding by Boat program will be conducted. It will be led by Latrobe’s Tim Vechter of the Westmoreland County Bird and Nature Club. Tim and I go way back. Someday I’ll relate one story we still laugh about today concerning a caterpillar that rode on the wheel of his bike to my store. And talk about a fellow who loves to bike along the miles of roadways, mention any place within a 50 mile radius of Latrobe, and Vechter’s been there. When Pam says he will delight all who are eager to learn, that is putting it mildly. It will be a treasure to be taught by him. I agree with her 100% that Tim has a vast knowledge of birds and nature. Anyone in attendance should readily agree that he is very knowledgeable when it comes to creatures of the great outdoors. This program is also scheduled for two hours and should conclude at 11 a.m. Here again, pre-registration is required. The number to call is 724-668-2566. This will truly be an adventure in every sense of the word!

From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. that afternoon, there will be a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Join Pam and fellow enthusiasts as a group will search for nature “from A to Z.” The DCNR specialist will elaborate on the exciting habitat of the forest “discovering nature’s secrets.” It definitely will be good family entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. This event will also start at the visitor center.

Pam advises, “Please dress for the weather and bring sturdy shoes. You may want to bring water and insect repellent,” she suggests.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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